New Festival of Pumpkins event will support St. John Valley small businesses

7 months ago

FORT KENT, Maine — Two St. John Valley entrepreneurs are hosting an event in which local businesses contribute decorated pumpkins full of gifts that are each entered into a raffle.

Sara Desrosier, owner of Alternate Roots Therapy and Consultation Services in Madawaska, will host the first Festival of Pumpkins event on Oct. 14. Stephanie Pelletier, owner of Skin Serenity by Stephanie in Fort Kent, will host the second event on Oct. 21. The events will each go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Pelletier said the idea came about as a way to celebrate the area’s small businesses.

“I’m also a small business owner,” she said. “I understand the struggles of starting a business and getting visibility. So, for me, my motivation was to help those other small businesses get that boost.”

She said that with advertising costs being unrealistic for many local businesses, this will allow them to get visibility without breaking the bank. All proceeds from the raffle will go directly back to each of the businesses.

“We want it to be a fun event for the community,” said Desrosiers. “And we want to support and highlight the small businesses that are around.”

As of late September, more than 30 businesses had signed up to participate.

Pelletier and Desrosier have known each other for years. Pelletier said she reconnected with Desrosier after she shared a holiday giveaway on her Facebook page along with some positive comments about the business. From there, they messaged each other and decided to work together on a community project.

Participating businesses can get as creative as they want when contributing their pumpkin.

“We left it really open and flexible,” said Desrosier. “Some people have opted for artificial pumpkins. Some are carving real ones. And we said, the more creative, the better.”

The pumpkins are also being stuffed. Some participants are putting in promotional merchandise while some are even putting baked goods in their pumpkins.

Pelletier said her pumpkin will include samples and skincare materials in her pumpkin, for example, as that coincides with her work as an esthetician. 

And if all goes well, both Desrosier and Pelletier said they would like to host the event in the future. Both said they have already started discussing potential future iterations, and hope that it can continue to shine a light on the region’s small businesses.

The participation fee for businesses is $10. 

“I think that small businesses put a lot of work into whatever it is that they do,” said Desrosier, “whether it’s the service they offer or the products they sell. And I really hope this event will celebrate them, much more than the financial aspect, just a community event where it’s fun and brings awareness that they’re here and they’re thriving.”